A total of $100,000 was added to last year's prize fund for the event to be held July 4-7 at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. The winner will take home $535,000.
'It's a milestone in women's golf,' said USGA women's championship director Betse Hamilton. 'It's by far the largest payoff on the LPGA Tour.'
Last year at Pine Needles in North Carolina, Australia's Karrie Webb cruised to an eight-shot victory over 1998 champion Se Ri Pak for her second straight U.S. Women's Open title. Webb joined Mickey Wright (1958-59), Donna Caponi (1969-70), Susie Maxwell Berning (1972-73), Hollis Stacy (1977-78), Betsy King (1989-90) and Annika Sorenstam (1995-96) as players who successfully defended their titles at the U.S. Women's Open.
Webb will look to become the first player to win the championship three consecutive years.
'I'll try not to let the 'three-peat' overwhelm me too much,' said Webb, 27. 'I'll focus on trying to win it like I've never won it before. Doing well doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to win every year. Giving myself a chance to win it is what my goal is at the start of the week.'
The original nine holes at Prairie Dunes, designed by Southern Hills architect Perry Maxwell, opened for play in 1937. Maxwell's son, Press, built an additional nine holes 20 years later.
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